A bike hit my parked car, who pays?
May 19, 2009 12:31 AM   Subscribe

Someone hit my car whilst riding their bicycle, knocking my side rear-view mirror clear off. They were nice enough to leave their number for me but I'm curious- is that something their insurance would pay for, or is it something I'll have to try to get money out of pocket for? I have only liability insurance. Totally inexperienced when it comes to such matters so talk to me like an infant.
posted by ryaninoakland to Law & Government (25 answers total)
Liability insurance really only protects you against damage you do to others. You should try to get some cash from the biker.
posted by c:\awesome at 12:34 AM on May 19, 2009

c:\awesome: Liability insurance really only protects you against damage you do to others. You should try to get some cash from the biker.

But that's what he's asking: would their liability insurance protect them against damage they did to him?
posted by koeselitz at 1:02 AM on May 19, 2009

IANAL but seeing as bicycle owners don't have to pay insurance to be on the road, I would doubt if there's any insurance to claim against. If the biker's been courteous enough to leave his number though he might be reasonable enough to at least partially cover the cost of repair. Get a quote, then call him about it.
posted by fearnothing at 1:11 AM on May 19, 2009

Cyclists don't generally have to pay to be on the road, but that is not the same as being uninsured. My home insurance policy covers liability in some situations, also membership of many organisations (cycle representative groups, clubs, sporting governing bodies) gives certain benefits including insurance, too.

Of course, this doesn't even cover the fact that while (at least here in the UK) drivers are legally obligated to be insured, many are not (estimates vary, but around 10% is generally agreed).

Bottom line is that the cost of a mirror is likely to be within most excesses, so it'll almost certainly be a cash transaction whatever happens.
posted by unsliced at 2:06 AM on May 19, 2009

The cyclist's car insurance (if the cyclist has a car and insurance) doesn't apply. It's not impossible, but it's unlikely that the cyclist has any form of applicable insurance. (I know a lot of Bay Area cyclists, have been a member of the various bike coalitions, etc., and I've never heard of anyone having it.)

Given that the cyclist left his or her number, it looks to me like the cyclist's intent is to do right by you. Get a quote; call the cyclist; assume goodwill on the cyclist's part for now.
posted by Zed at 2:57 AM on May 19, 2009

Go easy on the cyclist. You are parking on the road or maybe half on the road and half on the pavement and are likely in the way. They gave you their number freely (assuming it is actually their number - some people leave notes so that those who see them think they are doing the right thing) . I'd say split the costs and be sure and tell the shop you are paying for it so you get the real cost and not the inflated somebody-else-is-paying cost.

Don't kick someone in the 'nads for doing the right thing.
posted by srboisvert at 3:51 AM on May 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

Yeah, assuming the cyclist is insured (and if they're a member of a cycling club, they're likely to be), then you should get in touch with them.
posted by impluvium at 4:10 AM on May 19, 2009

what sort of insurance do Cycling Club participants have? (and by Cycling Club participants - do you mean those "roadies" who do long rides every saturday / sunday or whenever?

I ran into a car a while ago and as i have no insurance at all (no house and contents or car insurance - no car) I offered to pay for the light I'd smashed. Was I obligated to pay for the light?
posted by mary8nne at 4:58 AM on May 19, 2009

Given the number of bicyclists who are injured every year from people parking in bike lanes and opening their doors on bikers, I would very strongly urge you against going after the insurance of someone who was nice enough to leave their number.

Bicyclists don't tend to have insurance, but they also (in practice) are not treated as vehicle owners and given equal rights to the road. So please be nice -- it sounds like this person has the intention of paying for the damage, so it's probably best to work it out directly with them.
posted by puckish at 5:13 AM on May 19, 2009

A replacement side mirror for most cars -- even if the entire assembly needs to be replaced -- is rarely more than $300. If the assembly is OK and it's just the mirror, it will be less than $100 unless you're driving a fancy car, in which case you'd probably have more than just liability insurance.

Easily worth $300 of your time not to get insurance companies involved at all.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:14 AM on May 19, 2009

Just tell the dude (or dudette) your make and model car and have him find you a new mirror from one of those "U-Pull-It" junkyards. He's out 30 bucks and an hour of his time, you get a new mirror, everyone is happy. If you want to be nicer, find the mirror yourself and just ask him to pay the 30 bucks.

I'd take the "be nicer" route, but then again I love junkyards.
posted by Loto at 5:22 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is the sort of thing which is covered by homeowners policies, which include both a property and casualty (liability) component. The casualty side is completely unrelated to your home, as it turns out, and indemnifies you against your negligence in a wide variety of contexts. Homeowners policies usually specifically exclude liability incurred as a result of operating a motor vehicle (that's what auto coverage is for), but riding a bicycle is usually covered.

But the thing is, assuming your cyclist even has homeowners insurance (renters may or may not include casualty coverage), this is almost certainly going to be less than his deductible, as they're usually either $500, $1000, or $2500. Fixing your mirror is going to cost way less than that, so regardless of your cyclist's insurance situation, he's going to be stuck paying for it out of pocket.

If you want to get compensated for this, get in touch with your cyclist and send him a bill. If he doesn't pay you can either just take the hit or go to small claims court. That's pretty much it.

If you had comprehensive coverage on your auto policy you could file a claim against your policy on that basis, but as it is, you have no coverage of your own.
posted by valkyryn at 5:32 AM on May 19, 2009

Since the cyclist left you their contact information, it would seem they wish to make things right. I suggest you contact them and see what they propose, before you start dragging insurance worries into the mix.
Who knows? They may simply offer to write a check for the full repair cost.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:47 AM on May 19, 2009

You don't mention what kind of car you have, so I am going to point out that a late model motorized, heated mirror can get pretty pricey; here is a used one for a Mercedes (the go-to source for overpriced car parts) that is over $1000; that does not include the price of painting it to match the car. So find out what it will cost to fix it before you agree to too much. But it does sound like he wants to help, so if it is a lot of money and it is coming out of pocket, splitting the cost might be an option. I hope he didn't get banged up too bad himself, it would be nice of you to ask about his condition as well.
posted by TedW at 6:01 AM on May 19, 2009

mary8nne - if you were the one that damaged the light, then yeah, you are morally and legally obligated to replace/repair it.

I am amazed how people here are so shocked that someone would do the right thing and leave their number after damaging somebody else's property. Many comments seem to assume the car-owner is wealthy and the biker is poor, which is not necessarily the case. Even if the car had been parked "in the way" of the cyclist (really? how do you know that?) that doesn't justify damaging the car any more than deliberately running over a bicycle that is laying in the middle of the road would be justified. To answer your title question, the person that caused the damage to your car should personally pay as the the amount is not worth involving insurance. The fact that other cyclists have been doored in the past has nothing to do with your personal situation.
posted by saucysault at 6:17 AM on May 19, 2009 [5 favorites]

Quite honestly, I don't see the purpose in obsessing about the cost, the cyclist's insurance, etc. The simple facts are: The cyclist caused damage to your car, (s)he is responsible for repairing the damage. How (s)he pays for it is really the cyclist's business, not yours.

With that said, though, (s)he is trying to do the responsible and right thing, so I'm with zed: get a reasonable estimate for the damage, call the cyclist, and then be cooperative with however they want to handle it.
posted by DrGail at 6:19 AM on May 19, 2009

It says a lot about hardcore cyclist culture that so many people here think that if you ride a bike and you damage someone's property, you don't owe them anything by virtue of being in a bike instead of car. Driving a car doesn't make you a bad person open to damage by others without any recourse. If the same person said that a car had hit their mirror and knocked it off, I bet almost everyone here would say that the person who did the damage was obligated to pay.
If the OP was parked legally, the biker does have an obligation to pay for the damage they did. I would get a quote and let them know the price. If you want to split the costs as a goodwill gesture toward them being honest, that's your call.
posted by ishotjr at 6:43 AM on May 19, 2009 [8 favorites]

As others have mentioned, the cost of this is probably below the threshold of most insurance policies, and it's probably not worth getting insurance involved.

If the cyclist is responsible enough to leave his/her number, then he/she probably expects to pay for the cost of repair. There's no need for you to eat the cost.

One nice thing you can do, though, is to be courteous and professional when talking to the cyclist. He/she will be very relieved that you're not an angry jerk.

I say this out of experience... I have been that cyclist (2000, Subaru Outback, $200!).

Suggest to the cyclist that you get the mirror fixed and send him/her a copy of the receipt. Agree on this before you do it.

(and don't go to the dealer... that will be twice as expensive)
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 6:46 AM on May 19, 2009

[few comments removed - can we keep this to a narrow "how does insurance work here?" and stop with the bicycle culture analysis please? thank you.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:29 AM on May 19, 2009

I don't think it's about hard-core cyclist culture (and having been memorably and unjustifiably called a "fucking cunt" by a cyclist, through an open window, while driving, I know what you're talking about) so much as imagining that if the cyclist was hugging parked cars that closely, especially given the likelihood of a dooring incident, he was probably getting some pressure from traffic in the lane. I mean, he's obligated to pay for the damage, but it's likely he was in a difficult situation and possibly had the choice between hitting your mirror and getting killed, so be nice. As in: get a couple of estimates, maybe see if you can get the part used, rather than walking into the nearest dealership and telling them to fix it at whatever expense, then sending the guy the bill.
posted by palliser at 7:47 AM on May 19, 2009

It all depends upon your state. If you live in a no-fault state I believe your insurance pays, but that may not apply to a parked vehicle. Usually car insurance covers bicyclists. Home owner's or renter's insurance picks up where car insurance leaves off. Irregardless (Cortex made me do it) the guy left his number so he appears willing to make things right. Get a quote for repair and call him. No one wants to get the insurance company involved for such a small repair (less than a thousand) as it will just cause your rates to go up higher than the cost of the repair.
posted by caddis at 8:14 AM on May 19, 2009

I've had this happen to me. The cost to replace the mirror was like 150 dollars at the dealership - well below the deductible, and not worth calling the insurance company for.

The part itself was pretty cheap, like 70 dollars as I recall. I would have done the work myself, except that getting the door panel off was tricky and the wiring harness was damaged, so I let the pros handle it.

The college kid who hit my car sent me a check for a hundred dollars, which isn't what I asked for, but it wasn't worth the trouble to be a dick about 50 bucks to someone who at least tried to make amends.

In your case, I would advise you to get an estimate or two of the cost, settle on a price with the cyclist and just get it fixed. There is a non-zero chance that even calling your insurance company about it will get your rates increased.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:55 AM on May 19, 2009

You are in California, where the no fault system applies. Most likely it is your insurance that would have to pick up the tab if the cyclist were to bail on you -- but it probably wouldn't be worthwhile given the deductible, future increases to your premiums, etc.

But yeah, as others have said, it looks like this cyclist wants to do the right thing.
posted by randomstriker at 4:02 PM on May 19, 2009

The people (caddis, randomstriker, etc.) who suggest that this is contingent upon whether one is in a no-fault jurisdiction are wrong, because the OP does not have comprehensive or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on his car. Even if he had UM/UIM coverage, cyclists aren't motorists.The policy is liability only and thus does not provide any indemnification for damage to his vehicle in this case. There is absolutely no way of getting his insurance company to pay a dime, regardless of jurisdiction.

Furthermore, auto insurance liability policies do not cover any damage caused while not operating a motor vehicle, and bicycles don't count as motor vehicles. So the cyclist's auto policy does not provide any coverage for damage caused by his cycling.

Ergo, no one's auto policy is implicated here. The only possible coverage is the cyclist's homeowner's policy, if any. But as I said above, his deductible is almost certainly going to be larger than the cost of this repair, so the cyclist is going to wind up paying out of pocket.

I work for an insurance company. I have some knowledge here.
posted by valkyryn at 8:16 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Some more bicycle insurance info.
posted by caddis at 12:01 PM on May 20, 2009

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